AGF elevates performance management to drive change and transition

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AGF invested in a new, off-the-shelf, web-based employee performance and talent management system that provides their employees with a greater sense of where the organization is heading and how everyone contributes to helping the organization achieve its corporate goals.

The new system has enabled AGF to:

  • Drive individual performance in line with overall corporate goals
  • Encourage greater dialogue around performance to help motivate and engage employees
  • Create a more efficient process and improve managers' productivity by guiding them through the process
  • Help managers spend time with their team members building relationships and dialoguing about performance
  • Elevate employee performance management to a strategic level
  • Drive greater accountability for and visibility into the employee performance management process

Company profile

AGF Management Limited is one of Canada's premier investment management companies with offices across Canada and subsidiaries around the world. AGF provides Canadians with innovative investment solutions across the wealth continuum. AGF's products and services include: a diversified group of more than 50 mutual funds, the evolutionary AGF Elements portfolios, the Harmony asset management program, AGF Private Investment Management, Institutional Account Services and AGF Trust GICs, and loans and mortgages. With over 800 employees and over $50 billion in assets under management, AGF serves more than one million investors.

Challenge

As a leader in Canada's investment market, AGF is focused on creating a high-performance culture where employees are committed and engaged, playing an active role in the company's success. Guiding corporate objectives and conduct by all employees are AGF's six guiding principles, which focus on client centricity, teamwork, disciplined management, enlightened communication, accountability, and committed passion.

The challenge AGF faced involved rallying the organization together during a time of change and transition. AGF needed to elevate business to new heights to re-stimulate growth and performance.

To streamline processes, the company had designed its own automated performance management system in the mid-1990s, when such electronic solutions were extremely rare. After running the in-house solution successfully for several years, the AGF team began to recognize that the system would not sustain the company into the future, and would require a significant investment to keep pace with the company's growth and changing business needs.

In 2004, AGF's organizational development team began to look at the various employee performance and talent management systems available. "We wanted to enhance and elevate performance management and combine the best elements of our existing system with a new system that could be tailored to our lines of business and roles," said Leena Malik, Director, Organizational Development (OD). "Our vision was to strengthen employee engagement by linking corporate goals with individual objectives, so our employees could achieve business goals and display competencies that support our company direction. All of which support our corporate values, particularly disciplined management and accountability."

Solution

The AGF team used an extensive selection process in looking for a new employee performance and talent management system. The company put in place a comprehensive change management process including a steering committee at the executive level and a Business User Group at the VP/Director level, both of whom participated in the selection of the new solution. Managers from throughout the organization were also solicited for input on what features they required and how the overall process they used for reviewing and managing employee performance could be improved.

Following this rigorous selection process, Halogen Performance™ was selected based on the web-based system's ability to meet the company's future performance management needs.

While system adoption and acceptance were already quite high with the old system, the new Halogen system enabled the organization to shift the focus away from performance management technology and on to greater dialogue around performance management in a way that worked best for AGF and for the roles within the organization. The Halogen system became a tool to help promote greater dialogue regarding business unit and individual performance rather than simply a template that needed to be filled out twice a year.

Benefits

Since rolling out Halogen Performance, AGF has realized a number of business benefits. Overall, the company views the commitment to a more strategic and efficient performance management process as positively contributing to the company's achievement of its goals, and as a significant win.

Perhaps the biggest win for AGF is the greater focus on employee performance management including the creation of individual scorecards and in some areas the gathering of 360 degree feedback. There is also increased management interest in creating performance management templates and processes that are aligned with their business unit roles and processes. The ability to tailor the new system to the business units' requirements has been a benefit to some areas that had not adopted the older system because it was unable to meet their specific needs. The overall outcome has been more awareness, visibility and understanding of AGF's corporate and business unit goals, as well as a greater emphasis on individual contributions to these goals.

"Before rolling out the new system, performance management was viewed as a discrete process," said Tina Chianelli, Director of Organizational Effectiveness with AGF. "Now everyone has a greater understanding of the overall performance cycle and how it aligns with the business cycle, along with its strategic benefits. Managers see the value of having a more disciplined process of setting objectives and expectations at the beginning of the year, with the opportunity to have more productive discussions come review time."

The system has also provided a way to formalize the process of capturing these discussions and employee and manager feedback in a way that allows everyone to focus less on administration and more on dialogue. Before rolling out the Halogen system, performance management was perceived by employees as a manager driven process. Now Halogen's suite helps the process to promote more of a two-way dialogue. Also the system provides a way for developmental planning and discussions to be live and dynamic versus something that only gets discussed at when an employee's performance is being formally reviewed, because it gives employees a way to create, track and take ownership of their development with their manager's support and guidance.

Greater accountability and visibility

Halogen Performance has enabled AGF to create more awareness of the link between employee goals and their overall business unit and corporate goals. Employees are now more focused on the achievement of their business unit's goals and have an understanding of what they are working towards and why it is important.

"By elevating the awareness and importance of employee performance management throughout the organization we are positively contributing to the bottom line," elaborated Malik. "By linking employee goals to overall corporate objectives everyone understands what they need to achieve on a day-to-day basis so AGF can meet its strategic objectives. The end result is a greater connection to the business as everyone sees that this is not about administration and filling out forms, but about the company's results in a competitive industry."

Streamlined processes, improved productivity

For the managers, employees and the HR team, the new system has streamlined the employee performance management process, while improving its overall productivity. The automated workflow provided by Halogen reduces overall time spent on the performance management process by all involved.

With the completion of each performance review cycle, AGF's OD team surveys leaders and senior management. Managers remarked how much easier the Halogen system is, how much time they are saving and how productivity has improved. One manager commented that they were able to spend their time on employees and the actual performance review instead of administration.

Halogen's solutions have delivered on AGF's overall vision for performance management. "The system has met our expectations and business needs, and Halogen has been able to address our specific requirements. In conjunction with our change management strategy, we've achieved each of our key criteria for this new process," said Malik.